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Leviticus in Hebrews

A Transtextual Analysis of the Tabernacle Theme in the Letter to the Hebrews

Mayjee Philip

Scholarly consensus on the relationship of the Letter to the Hebrews to the Old Testament is far from universal or uniform. This book aims to address this area in Hebrews scholarship, which is lacking a critical account of the dependence of Hebrews on the Old Testament, especially Leviticus, in constructing a meaningful text. The book examines how the author of Hebrews uses the textual levitical tabernacle theme to construct the central motif of the heavenly tabernacle in Hebrews. In analysing the ways in which Hebrews relates to the Old Testament, the author makes use of literary theorist Gérard Genette’s concepts of transtextuality and transformation. These concepts help set in relief the variegated textual relationships Hebrews has with the Old Testament in general, and Leviticus in particular, and the transformations that are central to constituting meaning in Hebrews.


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Chapter 4 - Transtextuality -63


Chapter 4 Transtextuality Hebrews and the Old Testament Based on the evidence drawn from the transtextuality chart (Appendix iv), approximately two thirds of the 303 verses in Hebrews are from the OT, “… form[ing] them into an immense intertextual network …” (Tönges 89). The primary way in which Hebrews relates to the OT is through allu- sions and quotations; besides these there are commentaries and summary statements as well. In Genette’s paradigm, this is clearly symptomatic of what he classifies as intertextuality, which, as stated above, is “a relation- ship of copresence between two texts or among several texts: that is to say, eidetically and typically as the actual presence of one text within another” (Palimpsests 2). Besides quotations and allusions, the author of Hebrews also includes his commentaries to many of these texts from the OT. This phenomenon is representative of metatextuality. Hypertextuality is a third type of transtextuality at work in Hebrews; however, it is less frequent in its occurrence than examples of intertextuality and metatextuality. The textual category of summary, together with commentary, is operational predominantly in relation to the description of the tabernacle based on LXX Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers1 in Heb. 9:2–5:2 1 The texts from which Hebrews, the hypertext, borrows, namely, LXX Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers are hypotexts. 2 Appendix iv: p. 142. 64 Chapter 4 For a tent was constructed, the first one, in which were the lampstand, the table, and the bread of the Presence; this is called the...

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